Feyzi Fatehi is the CEO of Corent Technology, is a technology visionary, inventor, innovator, and entrepreneur, and the recipient of the 2019 CODiE Lifetime Achievement Award. A Silicon Valley veteran, Fatehi studied at Cambridge, Princeton, UT Austin, and UCLA and has given talks at Harvard, Wharton, Stanford, CalTech, Carnegie Mellon, as well as at industry events around the globe. He was featured in Forbes as a disruptor in the software industry. Recently, Mr. Fatehi authored a Forbes book titled ‘Democratizing SaaS.’ In a conversation with Mr. Fatehi, we got to know more about his experiences, challenges, and efforts that went into writing this book. Here are some excerpts from the interview.
Mr. Fatehi, please tell us a bit about your career so far. How have your life experiences shaped you into the leader you are today?
Sure! I studied solar engineering at UT Austin and then did my master’s degree in software architecture. In the meantime, I worked with Honeywell on the first powerplant automation in Texas. I was campus recruited by HP in Silicon Valley and joined a team that invented the first Real-Time Database a few years later. Later, I completed my MBA while I joined the global alliances and channels management team at HP, responsible for several billion-dollar HPs revenues.
In 1999, I left HP and started my entrepreneurial journey by working with multiple disruptive and innovative technologies, particularly pioneering SaaS technologies. That led to Corent, working on fundamentally disruptive technology in the form of SaaSOps and other platform technologies at Corent, leading to several consequential and patented inventions.
Regarding leadership, having the will, tenacity, and resilience to overcome obstacles at each stage became the hallmark of my journey towards a greater purpose and vision of commitment to innovation as a personal and corporate value, duty, obligation, and responsibility.
As the CEO of Corent Technology, what challenges do you face, and how do you overcome them?
The biggest challenge of any disruptive innovation effort is dealing with uncertainty. Uncertainty of time, resources, effort, and, therefore, finance is required to achieve the impossible breakthrough that you have your eyes set on. Disruptive innovation does not happen in a command-and-control atmosphere. Besides the genuine commitment to the vision and tenacity for handling the ups and downs, innovative team members need psychological safety to act from a state of inspiration rather than desperation. While each member keeps other members accountable to pull their weight and contribute and complement the team’s efforts, people need the safety to speak their minds and permission to be respectfully direct and be allowed to stick their necks out and have the right to be heard without any fear of being reprimanded.
Therefore, creating a culture of recognition, acknowledgment, and celebration of successes along the way to re-charging members’ mojo, positive energy, and confidence is an integral part of a leader’s responsibility.
According to you, what have been the significant milestones during all these years of your journey as a leader?
Some of the most rewarding mileposts would be developing Corent’s core product and securing several invention patents, recruiting a robust number of customers and ecosystem partners, assembling an incredible advisory board comprised of industry luminaries, and achieving the highest endorsements and certifications from industry leaders like AWS Microsoft.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, how did you manage the operations of Corent Technology without any severe hassles?
One of the most dramatic realizations that came out of the pandemic was the Digital Transformation which has been happening for the last couple of decades and has had a profound influence on our ability to get work done from anywhere. This is especially true for knowledge work, of which the software industry is a prime example. Because Corent’s platform was itself SaaS, running on the cloud, and we were already a globally distributed organization with sales and marketing in three continents and development in India, we were well-positioned to function even during pandemic lockdown conditions. We definitely increased our proportion of ‘Work from Home’ scenarios and adapted with more virtual meetings.
Coming to your book, ‘Democratizing SaaS,’ Mr. Fatehi, first of all, many congratulations. The book has been garnering a lot of praise from the industry leaders. Please tell us what inspired you to write the book ‘Democratizing’ SaaS?
Thank you! I’ve been humbled to have so many of them express strong support and even offer testimonials for the book.
Inspiration-wise, when we started to analyze the potential for our SaaSOps platform and the difference it could make in lowering the barriers to entry for developing a SaaS solution, it became obvious that this model was not only good but potentially revolutionary. SaaS is one of the seminal concepts for software this century, and we wanted to share our vision for how that model could be realized in a way that enabled anyone, literally anyone, to become a SaaS Provider by providing all the ‘as a Service’ capabilities needed as a platform.
For you, what was the most challenging part while writing a book? What kind of research did you do, and how long did you spend researching before beginning ‘Democratizing’ SaaS?
Honestly speaking, one of the most challenging parts of writing the book was simply finding time while also running Corent. Luckily, the research for the book was largely intrinsic to the activities we were engaged in as a company, studying and innovating to bring the conceptual model of an ‘as a Service’ platform for SaaSifying and operating applications as a SaaS to life as a product. Much of the other research for the book consisted of pulling together the big picture of global industry numbers, the fantastic scope and scale of this SaaS transition that otherwise might not be so readily apparent. A classic case of not seeing the forest for the trees.
What authors do you like to read? What book(s) have strongly influenced you and your writing?
I’ve long been a fan of Marshall Goldsmith, and he has had a strong influence on my perspectives on leadership in business. Marshall’s book What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There had a big influence on my leadership style, and I have started to reading and enjoying his new book The Earned Life.
Mr. Fatehi, what does literary success look like for you?
I’d count the book as a literary success if it propelled this idea of Democratizing SaaS and inspired entrepreneurs to take the leap and create their own SaaS businesses.
Before wrapping up, a piece of advice you would give to a writer working on his first book?
I suggest first-time authors to expect it to take longer and work harder than they may have envisioned.